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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and

Discern Fact from Fiction

The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast

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#183 & #184: "Several New Testament Scriptures clearly identify the seal of God as a work of the Holy Spirit, not the keeping of a Sabbath day. For example Ephesians 4:30 plainly says, 'And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.' Mrs. White has no support at all for linking the seal of God with Sabbath keeping."—Mark Martin.

#183: Several New Testament Scriptures say that the seal is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the keeping of the Sabbath. It isn't that simple. Does Ephesians 4:30 say that the Holy Spirit is the seal, or does it say that the Holy Spirit is the one who applies the seal? This distinction is potentially crucial.

First of all, let's look at the passage upon which the whole discussion is based, where the end-time seal is likened to an object held in the hand rather than the Holy Spirit:

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Rev. 7:2-4)

Of course, this seal isn't merely the Sabbath, as made clear by James White under #176, as well as the following:

Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved . . . .—Last Day Events, pp. 219, 220.

To put it another way, the seal of God has something to do with sanctification, an idea supported by the following Scripture: "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev. 14:1). Those sealed have the Father's name in their foreheads. This signifies that they fully belong to God and reflect His righteous character. They are sanctified, and the Holy Spirit is the active agent in that process:

But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)

Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thess. 2:13)

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:2)

While the Holy Spirit is the active agent in the work of sealing God's people, He Himself may not be the end-time seal. The last verse cited said that we are sanctified by the Spirit "unto obedience." Obedience to what?

The seal of God is in opposition to the mark of the beast. In chapter 13 of Revelation we have a description both of the beast and of the enforcement of his mark. Next comes Revelation 14:1, already quoted, which mentions those who are sealed with the seal of God. Then comes the warning of the three angels, the last of which warns the world against taking the mark of the beast. All this is sandwiched between the following two verses:

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev. 12:17)

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Rev. 14:12)

These two verses suggest that the end-time struggle between the mark and the seal has something to do with God's commandments.

The seal is to go in the forehead. The mark may go in either the forehead or the hand. This is imagery taken from Deuteronomy where, after Moses repeats the Ten Commandments in chapter 5, he says, "And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes" (Deut. 6:8). Since Moses said to put the Ten Commandments in the forehead and hand, this suggests that the seal has something to do with obedience to the Ten Commandments. Isaiah 8:16 indicates the same: "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples."

So God wants to place His law in our minds, which is the promise of the New Covenant, and the beast wants to place a counterfeit there instead. If the beast can't get us to believe his counterfeit with our minds, if he can't put the mark in our foreheads, then he is satisfied if he can get us to do it with our hands, to go along with the flow.

Now let's get a little more specific. A seal shows ownership or authority. It shows who the ruler is who gave the law in question, and typically contains both his name and his title. Looking through the Ten Commandments, we find that eight or nine of them might be given by just about any god on the planet. Various gods command their adherents to be good moral people, not killing, not stealing, and not committing adultery. But the fourth commandment is different from the rest. It identifies the God who gave this holy law:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, [p. 121] nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Ex. 20:8-11)

Only the God of heaven, the Living God, could make this claim of being the creator of all. The fourth commandment is thus the only one of the ten that contains His seal and identifies who the great Law Giver is.

Interestingly, the italicized words are quoted in the warning of the first angel of Revelation 14: "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14:6, 7).

The fact that language found in Revelation's description of the seal-mark issue is taken from the fourth commandment is evidence that the seal has something to do specifically with the fourth commandment.

Consider what Paul said:

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. (Rom. 4:11)

Here the words sign and seal are used interchangeably in reference to circumcision, which at that time symbolized righteousness by faith. The Sabbath has likewise been a sign of righteousness by faith, or sanctification (Ex. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12). God intended for the Sabbath to bring His people into a closer relationship with Himself: "And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God" (Ezek. 20:20).

Even in New Testament times, the Sabbath is a sign of righteousness by faith, if we believe what the apostle Paul wrote:

For we which have believed do enter into rest . . . . For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. . . . There remaineth therefore a rest [Greek: a keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Heb. 4:3-10)

So just as in Old Testament times, the Sabbath is to be a sign today that the believer is ceasing from his own works, that he is seeking to be saved and sanctified by faith through the Holy Spirit. That makes the Sabbath a sign of salvation by faith, not salvation by works.

Consider also the fact that the papal power has claimed that the change of the Sabbath to Sunday is her mark of authority (see #180). Now if Eberhard, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and all the rest were correct in who they said the antichrist of prophecy is, would not the seal of God have to contrast with the beast's mark in some way? If the beast claims that a day of worship is his mark, would not the seal also have to have something to do with a day of worship? Of course.

Besides the allusion to Deuteronomy 6:8, Revelation 13 contains another helpful allusion: "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (Rev. 14:15). This refers to Daniel 3, where we have a law enforcing false worship at a particular time:

That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up. (Dan. 3:5)

Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. (Dan. 3:7)

Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image. (Dan. 3:10)

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? (Dan. 3:15)

The fact that Revelation 13 makes an allusion to this story implies that the seal-mark issue has to do not only with the commandments but also with the time of worship, the same idea suggested by Daniel 7:25. And the only one of the ten that has anything to do with the time of worship is the fourth.

Shall we look at just one more allusion from Revelation? "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed" (Rev. 13:12). Notice how it says that he causes both the "earth" [p. 122] and its inhabitants to worship the first beast. How might the earth, the land, the ground, the dirt, the soil worship? We have a single passage in Scripture that identifies an act of worship on the part of the land, and it too should be considered in this discussion:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. (Lev. 25:2-4)

So the allusion to Deuteronomy 6 tells us that the seal-mark issue has something to do with the Ten Commandments, and the allusion to Daniel 3 tells us it has something to do with a legislated time of worship. This last allusion to Leviticus 25 completes the picture, telling us it must have something to do with a sabbath of some sort.

Lastly, consider what Ezekiel says:

And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. . . . And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezek. 8:16-9:6)

So the imagery of Revelation is also taken from here, where we have sun worshippers being slain by God after not receiving His sign in their foreheads.

Sun worship? What does that have to do with Sunday? It is an historical fact that the religion of sun worship infiltrated the Christian church in the early centuries, and it was this infiltration that gave us Sunday as a day of worship. At least, this is what a journal published by the largest church in the world has said, a church that existed at the time the infiltration was taking place:

The church . . . took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday. . . . Hence the church in these countries would seem to have said, "Keep that old, pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified." And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, dedicated to Jesus. The sun is a fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the sun; as they compared Mary to the moon, the beautiful moon, the beautiful Mary, shedding her mild beneficent light in the darkness and night of this world . . . .—Catholic World, March 1894, p. 809.

This article's primary purpose was explaining how Easter used to be a pagan festival in honor of the sun, but how it was eventually Christianized. When this writer was in Hungary the fall of 1999, he visited some of the old cathedrals there and saw emblems of the sun above many of the altars. Evidence abounds that fragments of sun worship did indeed infiltrate the Christian church.

#184: Mrs. White has no support at all for linking the seal with the Sabbath. That this statement has no support at all can be seen from what appears immediately above.

And if that weren't enough, the papacy in recent years has called upon its followers to promote Sunday legislation in their respective countries (Dies Domini, May 31, 1998, sect. 65-67). What will it take before such efforts succeed? Why, it will take the pressure of the greatest nation on earth. And this is precisely what Adventists foretold, based solely on Bible study, long before America ever gained the position of world dominance that it has today (The Great Controversy, pp. 439-449).

In the 1880's some states in this nation used blue laws to harshly persecute those who kept the Bible Sabbath. At the same time, Sunday keepers who worked on Sunday were treated mildly (Alonzo Jones, The Two Republics, pp. 786-796).

Adventists have been predicting for a century and a half that the United States would lead the world in enforcing Sunday rest. Such a prediction is definitely not without historical precedent.

A Response to the Video

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